As an entrepreneur of a startup company, I imagine myself as a general manager of a professional baseball team. My main job is putting together the RIGHT team.
Many think an entrepreneur’s first task is to come up with a killer concept. Yet, it’s been said many times that “ideas” can be a dime a dozen, but execution is where most fail. Who executes? The team. As Jim Collins points out in his book, “Good to Great”, first the Who? then the What?
Maybe it’s also because I’m not a technical whiz kid, or a genius financial mind that I keep stressing the team. Or, I’d like to think it could be that I’ve been involved with six startups and figured out what helps in success.
So, as I’m admiring the work of Seattle Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik this off season in putting together a more competitive professional baseball team, I’m reminded about my primary job of finding the right people for the the right jobs in my company. Like a baseball team, a startup environment requires everyone to be cohesive and supportive of one another.
Sometimes an entrepreneur needs to take risks on inexperienced people, or on an experienced person who has never been in a startup environment. You build such a team with an unwavering core philosophy about the type of team you want. And when the team members need guidance, you coach them; when they prove themselves, you give them control. You always keep scalability and performance in mind.
In the end, it’s my job to look at ways to improve my team continuously based upon our performance against the competitive environment out there. If this means possibly bringing in more capital or merging with a complementary team or hiring faster, I will do so, always making sure that each new player within the company are complementary with one another. It’s my responsibility to ensure that the sum of the parts really make a much more compelling whole.
The character and performance of the team will ultimately be my scorecard as the founder of Lift9.